Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Finally in playoffs together, Steelers' 'Big Three' delivers

Le’Veon Bell (26) sets a Steelers playoff record with 167 rushing yards and also scores twice. He breaks the record of 158 yards set by Franco Harris in the Super Bowl IX win over the Vikings.

Getty Images

Le’Veon Bell (26) sets a Steelers playoff record with 167 rushing yards and also scores twice. He breaks the record of 158 yards set by Franco Harris in the Super Bowl IX win over the Vikings.

PITTSBURGH — Le'Veon Bell spent the past two Januarys watching helplessly while the Steelers tried to make a deep postseason run without him. The ever-fluid running back made up for lost time Sunday against the Dolphins.

So did Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the other members of Pittsburgh's "Big Three," together in the playoffs for the first time.

Pounding away at a defense that hardly seemed interested in stopping him at frigid Heinz Field, Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores, and the Steelers overwhelmed the beaten-up, mistake-prone Dolphins 30-12 in their AFC wild-card game Sunday.

"We wanted to go out there and make a statement," Bell said.

Pittsburgh won its eighth straight to set up a visit to AFC West champion Kansas City on Sunday. The Steelers were rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2.

Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger more than wiped away the bitter aftertaste of a 30-15 whipping at the hands of the Dolphins in mid October. The Steelers led by two touchdowns before the game was 10 minutes old on long passes from Roethlisberger to Brown. Miami never got closer than 11.

"Le'Veon was beastly," said Brown, who finished with five receptions for 124 yards and the two scores. "All day, controlling the line of scrimmage, just running guys over and finding a way to put the ball in the end zone. Any time he's playing like that, we're going to be a hard team to beat."

Bell missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons with knee injuries. In his postseason debut, he broke Hall of Famer Franco Harris' team mark for yards rushing in a playoff game. Harris ran for 158 yards in a Super Bowl win over Minnesota 42 years ago. Bell reached that total by the end of the third quarter.

The Dolphins — given a chance to prove that their first playoff berth in eight years wasn't a fluke despite being outgained and outscored during the regular season — never found a rhythm. The problem wasn't the single-digit wind chill or a vicious hit absorbed by quarterback Matt Moore in the second quarter as much as it was the Steelers. They sacked Moore five times, forced turnovers on three consecutive possessions in the middle of the game and never really let the Dolphins up off the deck.

"It's hard to win when you turn the ball over," said Moore, who completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. "In the playoffs, you can't make mistakes, and that's on me."

Roethlisberger wore a walking boot on his right foot after the game. He said it was a precaution after tweaking the ankle while throwing an interception on Pittsburgh's penultimate drive and he would play against the Chiefs.

Finally in playoffs together, Steelers' 'Big Three' delivers 01/08/17 [Last modified: Sunday, January 8, 2017 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.